Kinetic-Sculpture-Controller.doc - MAELabs UCSD

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Kinetic-Sculpture-Controller.doc - MAELabs UCSD Powered By Docstoc
					Kinetic Sculpture Controller

Science education in the Unites States is lagging behind many countries, and is
critical for an informed and productive public. One response has been to increase
interest and enthusiasm for science through hands-on robot type projects (e.g.
Lego league and FIRST robotics). Another response has been an increased
emphasis on meeting state curriculum objectives and standardized testing.
However, these two approaches are often seen as incompatible, since
preparation for standardized testing leaves little time for the exploration and
creativity associated with hands-on projects. The end result is that the hands-on
projects are typically relegated to after school clubs where only a small
percentage of students participate.

The objective of this project is to create a hands-on educational module that will
combine elements of the hands-on approach while still meeting curriculum
objectives. We will use a Kinetic Sculpture to teach fundamental concepts of
physics including conservation of energy, trajectories, impacts, and more. The
approach has been used for the past 3 years by the project sponsors during a
summer course offered at UCSD for high school students. We have created
optical motion sensors that measure ball speed on the kinetic sculpture, and a
controller that can move elements of the kinetic sculpture. This allows students to
create their own sculpture and explore physics in a creative and interactive

       Figure of sculpture, link ot video, and controller)

While the summer course has been very popular with the students, we wish to
make this kit available to teachers around the country. The kit developed at
UCSD has a custom controller, which works well but would be expensive to
market nationwide. In the past few years, controllers and dataloggers have been
developed for K-12 education from Verneir, Pasco, and Lego. We would like to
use these off-the-shelf controllers, since many high schools already own them
and teachers are familiar with how to work with them. In, order to implement the
kinetic sculptures with existing controllers we will need to develop a ball speed
sensor that will interface to any of these existing controllers. The project will

      Development of an optical ball speed sensor
      Integration of a microprocessor for precise timing and electronic
      Development of an aesthetic housing that will be made using 3D rapid
       prototyping, and designed for larger scale injected molded plastic design.

The project will involve technical work as well as consulting with a high school
Skills: Sensor development, electronics, 3D rapid prototyping, and product